UN agency: US-sought tanker ‘hijacked’ off UAE now in Iran

The US aircraft carrier strike group Abraham Lincoln sailed through the key Strait of Hormuz on in November, 2019 to show Washington’s “commitment” to freedom of navigation, the Pentagon said, amid tensions with Tehran. (File/AFP)
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Updated 19 July 2020

UN agency: US-sought tanker ‘hijacked’ off UAE now in Iran

  • The International Labor Organization said that the MT Gulf Sky was hijacked July 5
  • Iranian state media and officials have not acknowledged the hijacking and arrival of the MT Gulf Sky to Iran

DUBAI: A United Nations agency acknowledged Sunday that a US-sought oil tanker “hijacked” off the coast of the United Arab Emirates after allegedly smuggling Iranian crude oil is back in Iranian waters.
The International Labor Organization said that the MT Gulf Sky was hijacked July 5, citing its captain. That mirrors earlier reporting by The Associated Press.
“The vessel was taken to Iran,” the ILO said.
It said that all 28 Indian crew members disembarked in Iran and all but two of the crew without passports flew from Tehran to India on July 15.
The ILO cited the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network for its information. The ILO earlier filed a report saying the vessel and its sailors had been abandoned by its owners without pay since March off Khorfakkan, a city on the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates.
Iranian state media and officials have not acknowledged the hijacking and arrival of the MT Gulf Sky to Iran. The US government similarly has not commented.
In May, the US Justice Department filed criminal charges against two Iranians, accusing them of trying to launder some $12 million to purchase the tanker, then named the MT Nautica, through a series of front companies.
Court documents allege the smuggling scheme involved the Quds Force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which is its elite expeditionary unit, as well as Iran’s national oil and tanker companies. The two men charged, one of whom also has an Iraqi passport, remain at large.
A US bank froze funds associated with the sale, causing the seller to launch a lawsuit in the UAE to repossess the vessel, the Justice Department earlier said. That civil action was believed to still be pending, raising questions of how the tanker sailed away from the Emirates after being seized by authorities there.
As tensions between Iran and the US heated up last year, tankers plying the waters of the Mideast became targets, particularly near the crucial Strait of Hormuz, the Arabian Gulf’s narrow mouth through which 20% of all oil passes. Suspected limpet mine attacks the US blamed on Iran targeted several tankers. Iran denied being involved, though it did seize several tankers.


Germany warns dual nationals off Iran travel after arrest

Updated 52 min 45 sec ago

Germany warns dual nationals off Iran travel after arrest

BERLIN: Germany has warned citizens who also hold Iranian nationality against travelling to Iran after a dual national was arrested in October.
The foreign ministry did not name the detained citizen, but she has been identified as Nahid Taghavi by her daughter Mariam Claren.
"There have been several arrests of German-Iranian dual nationals in the past -- including most recently in October 2020, often without comprehensible reasons," said the German foreign ministry in an online update of its travel warning.
"Further detentions of people who also possess Iranian citizenship cannot be ruled out," it added, stressing therefore that "unnecessary travel by people who are also Iranian nationals is strongly discouraged".

 


Taghavi is a 66-year-old architect, who is reportedly being held in solitary detention in Iran.
Her daughter Claren said she has had no access to her since October 15, a day before she was believed to have been arrested.
Human rights group IGFM said Taghavi should be viewed as a political prisoner because she has for years been fighting for human rights in Iran, in particular for women's rights and freedom of expression.